In a major boost for plans to ensure Balbriggan becomes one of Ireland’s leading arts destinations, the town has been officially designated a ‘Creative Place and received Arts Council funding of €330,000 over the next three years.
The funding has been secured by the Our Balbriggan Rejuvenation programme, led by Fingal County Council’s Economic, Enterprise, Cultural and Tourism Department, under the Creative Places programme, to provide local people access to the arts within their own community..
Creative Places funding allows towns build local arts programmes for the benefit of all, building on existing cultural strengths and enabling local artists to lead a programme rooted in socially engaged practice and community development.
The award of Creative Places funding means sustained and vibrant cultural activity can continue to grow in Balbriggan, enabling local Balbriggan-based artists to work with local businesses, community groups and individuals.
According to the Mayor of Fingal, Cllr Adrian Henchy, the funding will form a plinth of the plan to make Balbriggan a national destination for the arts.
“It will provide key funding for a strategy which will ensure the town develops a very strong artistic identity,” he said.
John Quinlivan, Director of Economic, Enterprise, Tourism and Cultural Development at Fingal County Council, said the town was well placed to become a centre for the arts.
“Balbriggan is 20 minutes north of Dublin Airport and just over 90 minutes from Belfast. It is very well situated as a destination celebrating artistic creativity.
“The long-term aim is that 10 years from now people from all creative disciplines will want to spend time in Balbriggan.”
Eamonn Donlyn, a key partner in the application and co-founder of the local Scéal Arts Collective, said the award would boost the creative arts in a place already teeming with talent.
“Balbriggan has a huge number of creative people. The funding is a wonderful opportunity to bring them together and make the town a destination for the arts.”
Balbriggan is recognised as Ireland’s youngest town, as well as being one of the most culturally diverse.
And the opening of a 400-seater state of the art concert venue in the town is set to transform the local economy, as well as further boosting its artistic credentials.
The Irish Institute of Music and Song’s (IIMS) Lark Concert Hall, is part of a €12m investment by the Dawson family, in the IIMS campus which will create 150 jobs and attract 250,000 visitors annually.
Above Feature photo: David Newton, along with many local artists gathered at the Balbriggan Reclaiming the Arts event late last year. Pic: Fintan O’Toole.